Guide to Installing Win7 on your SSD – part 1 The basics

September 13th, 2011 in .How To Guides .PC Components
Dagmar
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Win 7 install when using a SSD as the primary OS drive.

With the price of Solid-state Drives dropping to a more reasonable level than ever before, the huge gains in performance by having your operating system and programs installed on a SSD are nothing short of must have. Windows 7 has native support for Trim, and is simply my favorite OS right now so that is what I am going to use in this guide. There are some basic things that need to be done before installing your OS and immediately after the install of the OS. This guide is the first part of a series of guides that cater to all levels of users.

It is always advised to start your installation with either a new SSD or a secure erased SSD, if you are unsure how to do this or are unsure your SSD has been successfully secure erased I suggest you visit your SSD vendors support forum and follow the appropriate guide. Personally I use a GUI Linux Secure Erase based on the Parted Magic ISO to secure erase my SSD.

BIOS Settings before installation of OS on SSD

  1. Check the board is in AHCI mode. In the EFI BIOS Utility select the advanced tab followed by the SATA mode, select AHCI.
  2. Enable S1 and S3 sleep in bios.
  3. Set ACPI 2.0 in bios to enabled
  4. OS medium source as 1st boot device. DVD or USB drive for example.

Win7 will create and format the raw partition. Do not create a partition let Win7 do so. Select next when prompted and let the installation process continue.

Immediately after successfully completing the Win7 installation and before you proceed with installing the drivers for the chipset and other components.

  • Turn off Hibernation File: Type cmd in search; right click the cmd symbol select “run as administrator”.

  • Type in the following in dos command prompt “powercfg -h off” and press enter.

The following 3 items are optional.

  • Short stroke the SSD Drive by 25%: control panel/system and Security/administrative tools/computer management/storage/disk management/

  • right click on C drive/ shrink volume. Then simply follow instructions to shrink volume shrink so you have 25% unallocated space set as minimum. What this does is help the SSD drive maintain a higher performance level and prolongs overall drive life.

  • Turn off paging file: control panel/ system/advanced system settings/performance settings/advanced/virtual memory/change click no paging file – click set and apply – ok. (Restart later.) If you want to use a paging file for whatever reason I suggest you set the minimum size to 1000mb and the maximum size to 1000mb. (Restart Later.)

performance settings/advanced/virtual memory/change

click no paging file – click set and apply – ok.

  • Turn off system protection: control panel/ system/system protection make sure all drives are off especially C if C is your SSD drive. There is no need for this function if you are making system images of your OS drive.

There are a number of additional tweaks that can be set to wring every last drop of performance from your system and to ensure the longevity of your SSD way beyond the manufactures warranty. They will be covered in part 2 of the SSD OS install guide. But for the majority of users these are the key settings that should be changed before starting to install any of the chipset drivers. This SSD setup guide can be read in conjunction with the OS  Install guide found here.  Once you have completed the chipset drivers run the Windows Experience Index and enjoy your new system.

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  • http://twitter.com/cloudsmesh Vishal

    I’ve check these all and many more changes with my SSD when I bought it before 6-7 months but it didn’t effect the performance and storage very much.It reduced the Boot time merely one or two second and increase the negligible memory.Some changes and settings also cause of Bug.  

  • http://twitter.com/HiVizMan Dagmar

    The key points of this guide are the initial BIOS settings. Many people forget to make those changes when starting – guess they are so keen to enjoy the SSD goodness – and as a result have to redo the install.

    The tweaks as listed are more to prolong the life of the SDD and ensure optimal performance over the full period of use. They do not increase performance of the SSD as such. As to boot times, none of the settings I listed should have any effect on boot times. :)

    Part 2 and 3 are more performance related – again I must stress that no setting changed in OS is going to make one iota of difference to the SSD access and write speeds – these are determined by firmware on the SSD, These performance tweaks simply alter how the OS interacts with the SSD.

  • Anonymous

    You said this was aimed at all user levels.
    Your very first group of instructions leaves me dead in the water.
    I have absolutely no idea how to change the BIOS & you don’t make this clear.
    I am at intermediate skill level & can manage most things if the instructions are accurate & detailed.
    Can’t say your blog fills me with confidence,I am not even sure what I am supposed to do about my existing OS on C drive on the HDD?
    Surely it’s desirable to retain the HDD boot, so where do you place the new SSD OS??

  • http://twitter.com/HiVizMan Dagmar

    Hello peteroonz,

    As an intermediate user I am sure you do know how to enter ths BIOS of your PC and selected AHCI mode for your harddrives, in this case it will be specifically  for your SSD drive, but just in case you have forgotten I will run through the process again.

    Power on your PC
    1.  During the POST process press the DEL key until you enter the BIOS
    2.  Once in BIOS navigate in your BIOS and select hard drive option.  (Since I have no idea what your motherboard is I can not be more specific sadly)
    3.  In the Hard drive option you will be given choices normally they are IDE, AHCI, RAID  -   Select AHCI option
    Now your system is in AHCI mode which is needed for the installation of a SSD.
    4. Press F10 and the return key – this will save your settings.
    5. Install your operating system as per the guide above.

    I strongly suggest that you install your OS to your SSD with no other hard drive attached to your motherboard. It is a simple process of removing the physical SATA cable from the motherboard. Please do this with your system powered off. I am suggesting this as a preventive measure so that you do not install your OS onto the wrong drive. And do install your OS onto the SSD drive.

    Once your new OS has been installed you can then re-connect all the hard drives on your system. A simple process – each of the drives will be picked up in the OS and once the drivers for each hard drive are installed a simple reboot will be requested and thereafter you are good to go.

    Enjoy your new SSD.

  • Anonymous

    Dagmar,

    Thanks,
    Very prompt, I appreciate the effort & hope others may also benefit.
    I note as perhaps you did, that “intermediate” covers many flavours, suffice to say that I have never before needed to consider entering or changing my BIOS settings. I had come to regard them as perhaps more inviolate than the registry, which since my adoption of Win7-64 (about 18 months ago) I have had no reason to enter either.
    I have two further questions, if I may:
    1) What practical minimum size SSD should I buy, until now I have limited myself to the 8Gb size which is now quite low cost but surely far from adequate in this application.
    2) Would you connect the SSD externally by USB cable or is there a neater solution perhaps with a cable of increased capacity to USB2?

    Peter O

    _____

  • http://twitter.com/HiVizMan Dagmar

    Hi Peter

    My friend I think what you are trying to do is maybe not the optimal way forward. Let me see if I have got this right.

    You wish to install your Operating System on a Solid State Drive of 8GB?   You will not be able to install Win7 on such a small SSD. I am sorry to inform you of that. The minimum size for a Win7 install is 16GB and that will not allow any significant applications to be install.

    Are you perhaps wanting to set up a SSD cache for your system? By that I mean keep your operating system on your hard drive and use a SSD as your system cache. By doing so you are able to speed up your day to day applications and files that would normally be saved in the cache. That is what it sounds like to me.

    http://www.anandtech.com/show/4329/intel-z68-chipset-smart-response-technology-ssd-caching-review/2 

    Might be a good idea to visit the link and have a read. Is that is what you wish to do?

    The guide I wrote is for a brand new install of your Operating System onto a solid state drive. In my humble opinion the smallest usable size is a 64GB SSD. As to wanting to install your operating system on a external drive (SSD or otherwise) well I would not advise that. 

    The benefit of a SSD drive for your OS and your applications as well as your everyday files is the raw speed of the drive over a comparable platter based hard drive. This guide addresses that application.

    SSD caching provides a compromise for those with large capacity traditional hard drives and wish to have boost in speed with those commonly used applications and files. 

    I will check back a little later Peter and see if I we have been speaking about two different things before. If you do want go the SSD cache route I will put a guide together for you my friend.

    Cheers